Fall Trolling for Walleye (Tips & Tactics)

Walleye Crankbait Trolling

We’re going to share some fall trolling tips that will help you catch more walleyes – buckle up!

(Special thanks to Minnesota guide Nick Cekalla for sharing this helpful info)

First things first, you need to understand the seasonal movements of both walleye and baitfish if you want to find and catch fish consistently this time of year.


When water temperatures are in the 50’s and folks are starting to pull their docks out of the water, you know you’re in for some of the best trolling of the entire year. The walleyes are following bait as they move from the basin into the shallow areas near the shorelines. Following the fish as they make the migration to these shallow fall locations can be critical.  

As a rule of thumb, a large population of walleyes live out on deep structure (15-30 feet) during the summer months. Once we get into the late summer/early fall period, those fish begin transitioning up towards shallow water, which is eventually where you will find them again in late fall.

The tricky part is finding them when they are in the between areas.

During the transition, one spot that usually holds walleyes is sand or rock that’s somewhere between their summer haunts and the fall locations we spoke about earlier. The biggest key indicator is the presence of baitfish.

Often times, these rocky or sandy flats can be vast in size, so you’ll need to cover a lot of ground to find the productive water. Once you’ve found the areas with baitfish, you know the walleyes are likely present or will be showing up very soon. Some of these transition areas will hold baitfish before they are pushed up to the shorelines.

I know you’re probably thinking, “Hey! I thought this article was going to be about fall TROLLING TIPS for walleyes, not location!”

Well, hold tight, because location is the very important first step if you want to have success with fall trolling.

You can watch this video for the same information if you prefer watching to reading:


It is not just understanding how these fish are moving seasonally from their deep summer haunts up to some of the more traditional fall spots, but it is also critical to understand how these fish move throughout the day.

Often times, fall walleyes are going to be off the steeper edges in the morning and during the daytime hours. Once we get into the evening and the nighttime hours, they move to the tops of the breaks. Simply, they make this move because that’s where the baitfish is during the low light period.

Baitfish is critically important because in fall, walleyes are actively gorging themselves in preparation for winter – find the buffet, find the walleye!


First, let’s look at some baits and trolling tips for the early weeks of fall.

When the walleyes are just beginning their fall transition and are still mostly located out in the basin areas, some of the best lures options include #5 and #7 shad-shaped crankbaits.

You can also have a ton of success trolling deeper diving crankbaits like the Northland Rumble B or the Rumble Stick. These bait have a more erratic action compared to the shad style baits. They move a lot more, which displaces more water, and sometimes, that’s what the fish keying in on.

Next, let’s dig into the shallower trolling strategies you might use near shorelines or on expansive flats.

In these conditions, the #5 shads really shine. Target the break lines that are adjacent to the big feeding flats. The bait will run around 10 feet down and is a great option for controlled contour trolling. It’s a great overall crankbait for shallow water when temperatures are in that 60-65 degree range.  

As you get deeper into fall and water temperatures get into the 50’s, you switching to a minnow-shaped crankbait will help you catch more walleyes. They have a slower, subtle rolling action that the fish can’t resist in chilly water.

That’s a fairly simply, yet effective system for fall trolling walleyes.

When the fish are out in the basin, you can lean heavy on the Rumble B’s. Once they move in towards the shorelines, the Rumble Shads becomes extremely effective. And finally, when the water temperatures start to really plummet, the minnow-shaped crankbaits become a secret weapon, trolled in shallow water on shoreline structure.


One of the biggest keys to getting bit this time of year while trolling crankbaits is having your speed dialed-in correctly.

Most folks want to know about the “magical best speed” you should be running your baits, but the plain and simple truth is finding the best speed is a game of trial and error. The best speed can vary from day to day or even hour to hour, so play around until you get the fish to bite.

If you are going 2.5mph and they are creaming your bait, keep it up – don’t slow down! The faster you go, the more water you’re covering and the more walleyes you will contact. That said, if they aren’t biting, you might need to slow down, sacrificing efficiency for strikes.

Typically, in late summer, you are trolling the basins in the 2.1 to 2.4mph range. Once you fully transition into fall and water temps continue to drop, you should continue dropping your speed lower and lower.

In fall, fish are gorging themselves and eating a lot of baitfish, but they aren’t willing to move as quickly for your bait as their metabolism drops.

In the 60-degree temperature range, you’ll want to be around 2.0mph. Below that, 55 degrees and lower, you’ll start slowing all the way down into that 1.4mph range for night trolling minnow crankbaits.

That said, don’t take any of this as LAW. As we mentioned before, the biggest key to finding the best trolling speed is simply trial and error. Slow it down, speed it up. Figure out what those fish want on that particular day.

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